D&D 5E Better Beasts?

Here is my attempt at updating the Carnivorous Ape from 1e:

The carnivorous ape is larger and more ferocious and cunning than other ape species. They are found in tropical jungles, live a solitary life instead of in family groups, and are fiercely territorial. If their keen senses detect an intruder in their territory, they will attack without hesitation. Carnivorous apes rely on brute force to rend and tear at their prey and, unlike their smaller cousins, do not throw rocks.

CARNIVOROUS APE
Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 52 (7d10 + 14)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.


STR
17 (+3)
DEX
14 (+2)
CON
14 (+2)
INT
7 (-2)
WIS
12 (+1)
CHA
7 (-2)



Skills Athletics +5, Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages --
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Keen Senses. The carnivorous ape has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight, hearing or smell.
Rending Attack. If both fist attacks hit the same target, the target takes an additional 7 (1d8+3) bludgeoning damage, the target is grappled (escape DC 13) if it is a Large or smaller creature, and the ape can make one bite attack against it as a bonus action. Until the grapple ends, the target takes 11 (2d8+3) bludgeoning damage at the start of each of the ape’s turns, and the ape can make one bite attack against it as a bonus action. The ape can’t make fist attacks while grappling a creature.
ACTIONS
Multiattack. The carnivorous ape makes two fist attacks.
Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage.
This is exactly what I mean, the carnivorous ape is one step removed from a real animal, and is based on the myth, rather than the reality.
 

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dave2008

Legend
If we are being realistic, I would say cheetahs are borderline small - body length around 4 feet, weight about 50 lb.

And they are not one of the big cat species known to predate humans. (Leopards are the ones to go for after tigers and lions).
They can get up to 160lbs so I'm fine with keeping them Medium
 

dave2008

Legend
But mostly it’s a weird mechanic. Giving large + creatures advantage on the save would at least not feel like a weird game widget, and I like my game widgets to only ever be there to add to the game, not just restrict an option that wouldn’t be especially powerful without the restriction.
I still don't get the horse hang-up, but I do agree within the context of the current game it is an oddly specific mechanic.* The bigger/stronger animals is more likely make the save and I will leave it at that. I've removed the restriction.

*For such a thing to make sense in D&D I would to remove all sorts of similar odd mechanics, which I am not up for!
 

They can get up to 160lbs so I'm fine with keeping them Medium
My source gives 140lb as a maximum, and I suspect that was a fat specimen in a zoo. Cheetahs are cats, I'm sure they get fat given the chance.

I've seen zoo cheetahs, I would describe them as "dog sized". Hyenas are way bigger.
 

dave2008

Legend
This is a philosophical point: are we designing the animal of reality or the beast of the imagination? The beast of the imagination being, in this case, the proverbial 800 pound gorilla.

There are already plenty of fantastical elements in 5e beasts - some are giants, some can talk. And frankly our group would be uncomfortable fighting against animals that where too realistic, and are happy with a degree of anthropomorphism in their animal friends.

On the other hand, if you are playing a very grounded game you would want your animals to be as realistic as possible. But that would mean they shouldn't have much of a chance against heavily armed humans.
I am all good with fantastical versions of real animals, but I would just make a distinction. I would call it something different - like your "ferocious ape." I want to have access to "realistic" beasts and fantastic ones.

What I find interesting about this thread is to take the simple representation in the MM and spice the beasts up with things that they creatures really do.
 

dave2008

Legend
My source gives 140lb as a maximum, and I suspect that was a fat specimen in a zoo. Cheetahs are cats, I'm sure they get fat given the chance.

I've seen zoo cheetahs, I would describe them as "dog sized". Hyenas are way bigger.
My source was 143lbs, but I remembered it as 163 lbs and rounded down to 160lbs!:p Though a quick search suggest that is similar to a hyena (50-140lbs depending on type);
1595177495415.png

However, Wikipedia mentioned that a pair of people-eating hyena's weighed 159lbs and 170lbs. Probably got fat on all of those slow humans (they kileed 27 people). Regardless, they are similar in size to cheetahs, but much more dangerous to people IMO.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
My source was 143lbs, but I remembered it as 163 lbs and rounded down to 160lbs!:p Though a quick search suggest that is similar to a hyena (50-140lbs depending on type);
View attachment 123970
However, Wikipedia mentioned that a pair of people-eating hyena's weighed 159lbs and 170lbs. Probably got fat on all of those slow humans (they kileed 27 people). Regardless, they are similar in size to cheetahs, but much more dangerous to people IMO.

Zambian Spotted Hyenas get up to 160lbs

cheetah do tend to be taller/longer, but Hyena are bulkier, their muscle density in a short powerful package.
 

VelvetViolet

Adventurer
I want more fantasy beasts. The Blood Hawk, Dire Wolf, those magic cows - they need friends.

EVERY statted real world animal needs an alt form and we need that many beasts that are unnatural, but not monstrosities.
I think the types mechanic is fundamentally broken because the types are generally arbitrarily applied rather than clearly and unambiguously defined.

Furthermore, a monster may only have one type even though that makes no sense. Plenty of monsters could be argued to fall into multiple types. You could easily write a monster fluff that could fall into multiple types if you tried.

For example: in the Beastmaster tv show, Dar is able to communicate with animals, including human/animal hybrids and people transformed into animals.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think the types mechanic is fundamentally broken because the types are generally arbitrarily applied rather than clearly and unambiguously defined.

Furthermore, a monster may only have one type even though that makes no sense. Plenty of monsters could be argued to fall into multiple types. You could easily write a monster fluff that could fall into multiple types if you tried.

For example: in the Beastmaster tv show, Dar is able to communicate with animals, including human/animal hybrids and people transformed into animals.
It seems fine to give a monster more than one type, as they don't have mechanics behind them anymore. The only thing it affects is summon spells, magic items (slaying weapons), etc. it doesn't effect the monster at all.
 


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